How to Use SFTP to Manage Your WordPress Files

SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is a secure and encrypted method used to transfer files between a local system and a remote server. It provides a safer alternative to traditional FTP (File Transfer Protocol) by adding an extra layer of security through the use of SSH (Secure Shell) for data encryption. This ensures that data transmission remains confidential and protected from potential eavesdropping or unauthorized access.

Using SFTP has its advantages, especially when hosting sites lack a built-in file manager. It allows users to securely upload, download, and manage files on the remote server without the need for a web-based file manager provided by the hosting service. This is particularly beneficial for users who prefer to work with files directly from their local computer using a dedicated SFTP client.

And if you intend to modify your WordPress site files using an SFTP connection, this tutorial will assist you by presenting multiple options for the FTP client, explaining the connection requirements, and guiding you through the process of establishing the connection. Let’s delve in!

How to Use SFTP to Manage Your WordPress Files

Install an SFTP Client

Before utilizing SFTP, you must have an SFTP client installed on your computer. Fortunately, there are a wide range of SFTP clients available, offering various features and functionalities to suit different user preferences. Some of the free and popular options include:

  • FileZilla: Systems supported are Windows, Mac, and Linux. The interface is a bit outdated but easy to understand and support side by side display with local site file and remote site.
  • WinSCP: System supported only Windows. Like FileZilla, WinSCP also comes with a dual-panel display with local and remote sites. Support multiple sessions on the same screen so you can complete more work at the same time.
  • Cyberduck: Systems supported are Windows and Mac. More modern interface compared to other FTP clients. Support for some of the most popular third-party storage platforms such as Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, and Dropbox.

Collect the Connection Requirement

Securing all the essential connection credentials is crucial, and you can typically find this information on your hosting provider’s website dashboard. These credentials include, but are not limited to:

  • Hostname or IP Address of your site
  • Account or SFTP username
  • The corresponding password
  • Port (use the port assigned by your hosting)

Some WordPress hosting services like SiteGround require you to use an SSH key (Private Key) instead of a password. So, be sure to have it ready if your site needs one.

Connect the Client to the WordPress Site

In this tutorial, we will use FileZilla as the SFTP client to illustrate the connection process to the WordPress site. However, don’t worry if you are using another SFTP client, as most SFTP clients will have a similar SFTP connection configuration.

Now, open up the FileZilla application then start by adding your site SFTP credential to create a new site profile on the site manager by clicking on the Site Manager button to open it and then clicking on the New Site button to start adding the connection credentials.

Now, add the information needed for the connection as follows:

  • Change the Protocol to SFTP – SSH Transfer Protocol
  • Add the hostname or host IP address in the Host field
  • Add the assigned port in the Port field
  • Use Normal Logon Type if you want to connect using a password, or change it to Key file if you need to use a private key.
  • Add the account user name in the User field
  • Add the account password in the Password field

After you click the Connect button, the client will begin the connection to your site via SFTP, be sure to accept any appearing dialog by clicking ok if present. A successful connection will display your website directories on the right panel.

Now, you can begin modifying your WordPress site files and moving your file between your local site and remote site by drag and drop method or by uploading and downloading.

The Bottom Line

SFTP’s ease of use and enhanced security make it a popular choice for website administrators, developers, and users who require frequent file transfers to their hosting servers. Whether it’s uploading a new website version, managing media files, or updating configuration files, SFTP provides a reliable and secure means of interacting with a remote server, ensuring data integrity and privacy throughout the process.

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Hendri Risman

Hendri is a WordPress expert and a writer staff at WPPagebuilders. He writes solutions on how to get things fixed in WordPress a lot. Mostly without involving a plugin.
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